Among the many gifts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, one which is it greatest need in our world today this this: the gift of peace. For despite the great power we possess, power which allows us to order and control so much of our life, we still recognize that that power has limits, and with that recognition comes worry, fear and anxiety.
Into that world comes Jesus Christ, Who says to us what He said to His Apostles one week after the Resurrection: “Peace be with you.”
In this post I’d like to briefly sketch the anxiety of our age and its antidote: the Peace of Jesus Christ that surpasses all understanding.
A few years back I came across a short-lived cable show devoted to the incredibly-extensive underground shelters which some people (“preppers”) were having built to protect them from whatever apocalypse they thought was on its way. I was struck by the elaborate nature of these shelters… many of them were as well furnished as my own home! And given the fact that they were buried underground and were built to survive extreme climate & environmental changes, they were also incredibly expensive.
Then just a few months ago I came across something which topped those shelters: the Survival Condo: luxury condominiums built in a repurposed missile silo to allow their owners to survive the collapse of civilization as we know it.
Here’s a summary:
The Survival Condo is an engineering marvel designed for comfortable long-term survival in a former Atlas missile silo. It offers spacious condos with many amenities including luxury living space and a community swimming pool, dog walking park, rock climbing wall, theater, general store and an aquaponic farm, among other features, all of which are underground and encompassed by walls that are 2.5 – 9 feet thick. A half-floor unit is ~900 square feet and runs $1.5 million. The full floor version costs $3 million for 1820 square feet.
As the official website for this project indicates, the first silo is sold out, and units in a second silo are going fast.
Meaning, tens of millions of dollars are being spent by people looking to survive the end of the world as we know it.
Meaning, there are multimillionaires who are truly putting their money in a (huge) hole in the ground.
The Survival Condo and other efforts like it are a dramatic sign of something widespread in our culture: our desire to control every aspect of our lives that we possibly can, to anticipate and even avoid every bad thing that might happen. The Survival Condo is a very real, very large and very expensive manifestation of the great anxiety of our age.
The scope of our cultural anxiety really is astounding. Consider, after all, the incredible material wealth that even the average middle-class American enjoys and then consider how much we worry and fret about it! Or think about our health: while millions of people in the world struggle to get enough to eat, our problem is just the opposite: we eat too much! Despite that, however, our medical technologies still give us lifespans into the eighth decade on average, and yet we worry and fret about our health, we seek to manage and control it so that we can live just a few more years.
In all of this, we see an extraordinary lack of the thing which was heralded by the angels at the birth of Christ, the thing which He gave the Apostles after the Resurrection: His Peace, Peace on Earth, Peace in our hearts, and the calm and trust that it entails.
As our experience indicates all too well, we cannot achieve, accomplish or manufacture that deep peace that we long and yearn for. But that’s okay… we don’t need to: Christ desires to give it to us, freely.
All we have to do is accept it, all we have to do is trust Him, all we have to do is know that everything that might happen to us has been accounted for by our Heavenly Father, and that whatever pain & suffering we experience — including death — is not the last word, that despite it, He will (and already does!) envelop us in His loving embrace.
No, we cannot achieve peace. But we can receive it. And here’s the thing: many of us have.
So why is it still so hard to do so?