A few weeks ago, I received an email with the subject line “Jesus at the Super Bowl.” It came from an organization sponsoring some Jesus-centric Super Bowl commercials that are designed to help “make football’s biggest Sunday a day filled with conversation about Jesus’ message of radical love.”

It called for Christians to get involved, inviting them to “Get Everything You Need to Join the Conversation” and offering “An inside look at the ads and campaign strategy; Guides for party planning and to facilitate conversation; Real-time alerts before the ads air so you don’t miss a thing.”

This struck me as a distinctly multi-level marketing approach to Jesus, complete with a bait-and-switch attempt to turn a Super Bowl party into a church small group… like when that dinner invite from your coworker turned into a pitch for essential oils.

I was curious about all of this, so I dug a bit further. It turns out that these commercials are part of a $100 million advertising campaign designed to “increase the respect and personal relevancy of Jesus” and “encourage Christians to follow the example of Jesus in how they treat other people.”

I’m sure the folks behind this are well-intentioned, and maybe it’s unfair to compare them to the Tupperware Lady. But I can’t help feeling a bit unsettled about the whole thing.

On the one hand, I think followers of Jesus should use the best available tools to share his love with others.

On the other hand, I’d argue that the image problems Jesus has result from Christians talking about the love of Jesus but not actually following through on loving people like Jesus.

So, if we want to “increase the respect and personal relevancy of Jesus,” why not spend our time and money actually loving people rather than announcing to them that Jesus loves them. They’ve heard us say “Jesus loves you” a thousand times. We need to back up our talk with our actions.

In that spirit, here are six ways to incorporate Jesus into your Super Bowl gathering:

  1. Invite someone who has wronged you, who you’ve had a falling out with, who you’re estranged from. (Matthew 5:23-24, 43-48)
  2. Invite your neighbors who are struggling, refugees, victims of domestic violence, or single parents. (Luke 14:12-24)
  3. Serve high-quality beer (John 2:1-10), and if anyone consumes too much of said beer, make sure they have a safe place to stay or ride home. (Luke 10:25-37)
  4. Use the party as a fundraiser to support an anti-human trafficking organization. (Matthew 25:34-40)
  5. Organize a pre-party park cleanup. (John 1:1-3; Genesis 1:31, 2:15-20)
  6. Plan out in advance how you can encourage five of your guests during your time together. Specifically call out their potential or what you appreciate about them. (Matthew 16:17-20)

If we follow Jesus’ radical example and teachings about love, it will ooze from our pores. We won’t need parlor tricks or a $100 million ad campaign. Our love for others will shine so brightly that it will be impossible to miss.

Will Johnston is a former pastor and Capitol Hill staffer in the process of reconstructing his faith. For more from The Christian Citizen, sign-up for our Weekly newsletter or visit us at christiancitizen.us