The church: a hospital on a battlefield
By Craig Johnson
Johann Lotz was just a master carpenter trying to care for his family and make beautiful things out of wood. He immigrated from Germany to the United States and settled in Franklin, Tennessee, where he built a home in 1858. In 1864 the Lotz home stopped being a quiet, peaceful family residence. On Nov. 30, 1864 the Lotz family awoke to find 25,000 Union troops assembled in the field around their home. Thousands of Confederate troops were coming soon. The Lotz front yard was about to become the front line of a pivotal and brutal Civil War battle.
The Lotz family retreated from their wood home to a neighbor’s brick home across the street, hoping for better protection. As the battle raged on for 17 hours, the Lotz and 20 terrified neighbors found shelter in a brick basement. They emerged the next morning to find the battle was over but the carnage was horrendous. The Lotz walked across the road to their home, but as they did so they couldn’t take a step without stepping on the body of a dead soldier.
When they got to their home they found it had become a type of battlefield hospital. Wounded soldiers from both sides were being treated there.
I had the chance to visit the Lotz home recently on a trip to Tennessee. It’s hard to imagine all the blood that was shed on what are now peaceful grounds. There are still some blood stains inside the house, some bullet holes and an indentation on the floor made by a cannonball that smashed through a wall and came into the house.
At some point in the battle it appears both sides agreed to treat the house as a safe place. Both sides brought their wounded there. Medics from both sides treated wounded from both sides. As bullets were flying everywhere outside; as men and boys were killing each other in hand-to-hand combat; there was peace between the two sides inside the Lotz home.
In some ways the church is to be like the Lotz home. We live in a scary world, full of conflict. People have deep wounds to their souls and minds and they can’t be healed by the world. Only in the good news of Jesus can healing be found. “… the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Only in Christ is peace and safety found that is far greater than just temporary safety for the body. Jesus offers safety for the soul for all eternity; a refuge that is solid and sure. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear …” (Psalm 46:1-2).
As battles rage around us, the church is a hospital for the wounded and hurting, and not just the ones who are on our side. The Confederate army rebelled against the authority of the United States. The Rebels were trying to bring an end to the Union. Their rebellion led to the incredible horror of the Civil War. And they were doing it all so that the wicked practice of slavery could continue. But Union medics treated wounded Rebel soldiers anyway.
Before the battle began, members of the Union army poisoned a creek near the Lotz home. Two of the Lotz young children were tragic victims when they drank from the creek and died. It would have been understandable if Mr. Lotz had been full of bitterness toward the Union army, but his home still became a place where care was given to wounded Union soldiers.
We share the good news of Christ with all people, including rebels, those we disagree with and those who have caused us pain. We all start out as rebels against the Lord, but He still offers us grace and mercy. In the blood Jesus shed for us He graciously offers rebels like us healing for our wounded souls.