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What if Jesus was the smartest man to have ever lived? What if the things he said were not advice, but something else entirely? What if the words of Christ meant the difference between living and dying, that they were a matter of survival?

What if the words of Christ were not so much commands, as laws; not laws in the legal sense, but laws in the scientific sense? This is a familiar distinction. The laws of thermodynamics are not commandments to be kept; they describe the truth about the universe in which we live. What if ignoring the laws that Christ described carried the same consequences as thumbing one’s nose at the law of gravity? You jump off a building, you die. You curse the road rager, you die.

What if, when Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” he was not telling us what to do, as if this was simply a religious obligation? What if, when telling us to love our neighbor, he was saying, “You know how the space between earth and the sun looks straight, but it is actually curved? Well, let me tell you something else about the universe that doesn’t make sense, but is really true: Give your coat to your enemy“?

When Einstein predicted that light would bend as it passed in proximity to the sun, plenty of folks thought he was nuts. Have you ever seen the light from a flashlight bend around a corner? To most of us, there is no indication that space is curved. But it is. That is the reality. Experiments have shown Einstein to have been absolutely correct. The universe in which we live is apparently far different from what we commonly think.

When we read the words of Christ, we often have the same reaction: “Love our enemies? Pray without ceasing? They are inspiring words, but not very realistic.” The world as we know it does not seem to be congruent with the world Christ described. He was often explicit about this: “You have heard it said…but I tell you…” In this way, he was telling us that what we believe about the world around us is not actually true. The reality is quite different.

Einstein and Christ were two men who saw the world as being very different from our common perceptions. Experiments proved Einstein to have been right. Can the same be said of Christ? Has Christ’s view of the universe been proven correct? G.K. Chesteron said once, “It’s not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting. It’s that Christianity has been found difficult and untried.” We often think that taking Christ at his word will make our lives harder. Christ would maintain that, unless we take him at his word, our lives will be impossible.

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The Scriptures are Jesus’ way of telling us what the universe is really like, despite what we might think, despite all appearances. This view of the Scriptures changes everything. Keeping the commandments (don’t murder, don’t take your neighbor’s wife, pray without ceasing, feed on the Word) is not a way of fulfilling our religious obligations. Keeping the commandments is the only way to survive in this universe, believe it or not.

Now I am beginning to appreciate the possibility that Christ may be the smartest person to have ever lived.