When Sam (Alex Russell) discovers that his scholarship has run out before his college semesters are up, he seeks options to raise funds and stay in school in Believe Me. As a result, he drags his two friends (Miles Fisher, Sinqua Walls) into developing a fake mission to Africa, “Project Get Well Soon.” With the likes of Christian rapper Lecrae, well-travelled actor Christopher McDonald, and Parks & Rec star Nick Offerman providing cameos, this strongly-scripted satire takes aim at Christian culture, in hopes that it’ll get our attention.
I have an appreciation for satire, especially when it allows me to see something about myself I might not see otherwise. When someone can ask questions or make criticisms that are things I need to work on for myself, it’s helpful. But I have to remember that those criticisms, those comments are intended to bring humor, too. It’s a credit to Will Bakke and Michael B. Allen (Beware of Christians, One Nation Under God) for developing a script that made me laugh out loud, and had me checking my own actions and motives in the mirror.
This film isn’t intended to hurt Christians, or tear down without building up. It’s simply asking us to consider what we accept as Christian just because a Christian is doing it, or ask if we’re doing something that doesn’t make sense anymore just “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Christian culture gets hit with the paintball pellets by Believe Me’s shots on worship music as performance art, the many ‘themed’ Bibles available for sale, the use of non-alcoholic drinks, the use of prayer as a means to speak to the other person in the room, and the way we find ways to use expletives without swearing.
In a world where Christianity is assumed to be something it’s not in some areas of the world, and blindly accepted as universally the same in others, Believe Me asks us what we know about ourselves and the gospel that Jesus preached. What people get out of the film is probably what they’re willing to open their hearts to here, as Bakke and Allen really want people to examine themselves. It’s not the film Saved, intent only at pointing fingers, but rather an insider look at how we (sometimes) blindly elevate people within Christian culture to positions of authority, and how we can confuse our motivations when we let the power go to our heads.
Looking for a good laugh with your teenagers, or college students? This one will give you plenty to talk about it; just don’t be surprised if you find yourself wriggling uncomfortably when it leaves you with room to grow!