A Brief Response to the George Zimmerman Verdict

Several weeks ago, we had a membership meeting at the Shiloh Church. During the meeting, I made several comments about the trial in which George Zimmerman was accused of murdering Trayvon Martin. The next day, a member sent me a note thanking me for sharing my thoughts about this important matter.

That note stuck with me. He was right. Outside of my passing comments in that meeting, the members of my congregation had no way of knowing how their pastor processed these events. I strive to preach the Bible, not current events. But this time my silence on a big cultural event felt strange.

Then last week I attended at preaching conference in Dallas. During a panel discussion, the question was asked whether a pastor should break a series to address current events.

John MacArthur  answer that when something significant happens in the culture, he pulls away from his series to address it. This was a surprising answer from one who is known for preaching through books of the Bible. But he made the point that if the pastor does not help his people make sense of issues from a biblical perspective, we leave our people to figure it out on their own or, worse, to let the culture shape our people’s thinking.

That answer stuck with me. And I determined that I would be a better steward of my pulpit in this regard.

Then I got home Friday evening and turned on the news to find the jury deliberating. And as Saturday rolled on, I had a feeling the verdict would come. I was right. The jury’s not guilty verdict was announced as I was calling it a night.

I wasn’t able to get much sleep. So I got up to work. I determined that I would bypass Daniel and preach something else. I chose to talk about submitting to God’s will even when it does not go your way.  This message on the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 610b) was not about the case. But it did give me an opportunity to make applications associated with it.

I did not directly address the verdict in the message. But I did make a brief statement before I started preaching. I made the following statements basically without comment:

1. We are saddened by the fact that another young black man lost his life in such a tragic manner.

2. We grieve with the parents and family of Trayvon Martin who had to bury their child and now live without him.

3. We feel the weight of the historic and continual racial discrimination of this country that we love.

4. We accept the verdict of the jury and respect the legal process.

5. We pray for all parties involved.

6. We trust in the goodness, faithfulness, and sovereignty of God.

7. We pray for the day when the wicked shall cease from troubling and the weary shall be at rest.

8. We are resolved to strive for change in our community, city, and country by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

9. We refuse to take matters into our own hands or cause these circumstances to make us act like we don’t know Jesus.

How did you address the Zimmerman verdict this weekend?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Peter

    You developed quite a list, but maybe you should have also included what a shame his family was split up and how they might have put up with a little bit of bearable suffering in the past and not divorced…perhaps a better home would have made a difference in a young man who was a troublemaker in school. Maybe you could have included how it is such a shame many young black men are killed even more senselessly in their black communities but no one bothers to notice because they are waiting for a Hispanic who is white enough to step out of line. Maybe you could also be saddened that a neighborhood had to resort to having a neighborhood watch. I’m sure Zimmerman should have been able to tell with his head being bashed into the concrete that little Trayvon was certainly going to stop soon.
    You really are right in remarks 5-9, but don’t ignore the totality of the sin problem here, it only adds to an atmosphere of racism. You think the problem is continual racism when it is really covetousness. Whatever is convenient will be used to try to get ahead of the next person, stop playing the victimization over race card…it’s sin that’s the problem.

  • Min Smith

    In my sunday school class I encourage my teens to read a Proverb a day. It gave me an opportunity to bring life application to Pro. 14:17 as it pertained to the way some people of God responded to the verdict.

  • Shawn Smith

    As usual, Pastor Charles was appropriate— a true blessing to have such an instrument of God.

    As much as we may want to rebel against this verdict, the only thing we MUST do is stick to our Christian principles. GZ may not have intended to murder this young man, but he did and there should have been some consequences but there wasn’t. Lets just pray for each other and the families involved in this tragedy.

    …and for those who choose to come to this CHRISTIAN based forum —let them have their opinion and they will move on. Remember that there are people who troll forums to incite negativity. We are Christians…peace.

    • William Robert Guerra

      you don’t think there were consequences?…there may not have been LEGAL consequences as he did not break the law but he will live with it every day and is being threatened every day….God is the Judge, not us…i hear all the time how people will pray for the martin family but not the zimmerman family and that is equally as wrong….and calling anyone a troll because they don’t agree with you makes you ignorant…

  • R. M. Addo

    I think someone should respond to Mr. Guerra’s comments, I guess I’m the someone.
    Sir. Trayvon was only seventeen years old. He was not a thief nor a drug dealer, as you stated!
    He was at a stage of experimenting and developing. We can look back on the youth of many great men who made a positive transformation, that allowed them to change and help others.
    Judge Mathis is a good example of that. Zemmerman is a man and when you look at his background you see he was not able to pass and be accepted in law enforcement, he was a want-to-be cop but couldn’t make the grade. The military was an option he could have taken had he really wanted to serve, but that would not have afforded him the power of having a gun daily. We are discussing two human beings not “Saints” but one had a clear choice but the other did not, and he is dead! Be Blessed!

    • William Robert Guerra

      he DID have a choice – he had the choice to go into his father’s house instead of circling around and attacking zimmerman…and he WAS a thief and at least as drug user if not also a dealer which is clearly possible if you oook at the evidence….

  • Arvery Bush Sr.

    The Lord led me to Psalms 37, keep trusting in The Lord. We my lose trust in others, our judicial system, and other systems, never lose faith in God.

  • KateSnyder

    Pastor, thank you for posting this. I especially like #7 about the wicked and the weary. I long for the day when the George Zimmerman’s in this world will approach the Trayvon Martin’s in loving compassion, with the desire to help, asking: “Are you lost? Can I help you find your way home? It’s raining out, do you need a ride? Let me tell you about Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.”

    • Lewis

      thank you for your response, it was a gentle rebuke that I desperately needed and it helped me put things more in focus

  • Lance Mann

    I thoroughly appreciate this post HB. I did not address it through the message, but I took time to, the best of my ability, explain what our response must be in light of a potentially volatile situation. First I told them to pray for Trayvon’s parents and all other parties involved. Second I told them it would be foolish and not of God to respond by committing acts of vandalism and violence as that will not bring Trayvon back nor change the jury’s decision. But lastly I told them that we as parents must love, protect and most of all, cover our young black boys in prayer for God to watch over them while they are away from us!

  • TM

    That’s good stuff, doc!

  • Soulwinner365

    Very good advice from pastor MacArthur. Thanks for passing it on. Although I’m not a pastor I did have the wonderful privilege of preaching this past Sunday. The message was “All of my help” from Psalm 121. In the sermon I presented from the text 3 promises to those who trust in the Lord for help; verses 3-4 God promises Stability, verses 5-6 God promises Security and in verses 7-8 God promises Salvation. As it related to the verdict, I was led to discuss how God provides Stability in an unstable world. Cross referencing Psalm 73 which is the story of Asaph and how he had almost slipped and lost his footing. As you know, he was distracted by the success and prosperity of those who oppressed the poor and mocked God and ironically seemed to always get away with it … that is until he went into the sanctuary of God then he understood their end! So it is with us, if we want true stability we must stay close to the Lord the one who ultimately wins in the end. What a blessing! Keep up the good work of the Lord Pastor Charles and God Bless you.

  • Kenneth Morgan

    Thanks for sharing. I too had been preaching a series of sermons but as a result of the verdict I felt it was necessary to share something relevant to the situation. I have children who are 25,24, & 22 years old who were deeply hurt and angry about the verdict. I shared with my congregation from Habakkuk as he was faced with frustration and disappointment in the time he lived. But, he teaches us to:
    1. Take our concerns to God
    2. Be patient and trust in the all-knowing, sovereign God
    3. Rejoice! Even though things are tough and unsure, we must rejoice in the God of our salvation.

    • William Robert Guerra

      i am so confused why people are so angry…what don’t people understand about a troubled *black* teen with a criminal background thinking he was going to be some big man by teaching some *cracker* a lesson by attacking him…murders occur every day – it is only b/c of race baiters THINKING gz was white to start with…the man defended himself…i would hope you would teach your children that if someone attacked them they have the right to defend their lives….NO MATTER the color of the attacker…

  • Keith G

    Great insight. Pastor H.B. The Lord led me to Micah 6:1-8. This passage speaks about “God’s Indictment (or Trial) of His People.” The people had made many decisions that God did NOT any longer care for them, forgot about them and was no longer walking with them. So God put His own people on Trial. We must be careful of trying to decide trials of other people’s lives without first checking to see whether we are right with the greatest righteous Judge of them all. Verses 1-5 = God is the prosecuting attorney on Israel. 1.) God showed them how good He was to them. God told them even the mountains and earth can testify to that. God has brought them out of Egypt, gave them leaders, removed curses from them and allowed them to walk in the promise land. Application: In spite of what has happened lately in our culture, we can still say God has been good to us and has brought us from a mighty long way. Vs. 6a = 2.) God gave them His requirements. Regardless of sometimes how we feel, God still expects us to live a dedicated, committed life to Him even when our emotions say different. God is NOT insensitive to our feelings but sometimes our feelings can make us do what is contrary to God’s will. His requirements (needs, commands, demands) are to be obeyed, not compromised. Why? Because God sees the future of the outcome even when our emotions and feelings cloud our judgments. The requirements that God gives to us are all pro-active measures. In our English language, we call them verbs. DO, LOVE, and WALK are what God wants us to do, even when we don’t feel like doing what is right. 3.) Do justly. Do what is right even when it goes against your thoughts or emotions. Isaiah 55:8-9. 4.) Love Mercy. Demonstrate kindness to all. Not just to friends but also to those who are not your friends (enemies – Matt 5:43-46. Love your enemies) and 5.) Walk Humbly. Humility is the ability to lower your self in rank, not have pride, and walk modestly and allow God to control everything. 1st Peter 5:5-6. Humble yourself and cast all your cares upon God for He cares for you. God wants to teach us to leave everything in His hand. Pastor H.B. thanks for allowing me to post this. God bless you sir.

  • Clarence Bowens

    I purposely waited to express my thoughts and feelings regarding the Zimmerman verdict. I must confess that I am still experiencing a myriad of feelings. My heart hurts for the Martin family. I am deeply troubled about the process and outcome of the trial. George Zimmerman made a terrible decision based on pre-supposed and erroneous thinking about a young man who had great potential. WE have lost another Son. This is an atrocity. I believe it was Dr. King that said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. The justice system has failed all US citizens everywhere. And unfortunately, it is grossly intensified when it comes to African American Males. Despite our feelings, we must conduct ourselves justly in the face of injustice. We must remain vigilant as we continue the fight for justice and what is right. Lastly, I pray George Zimmerman. Long after this trial fades from the media spotlight, he will continue to live with the decision that he made on that fateful night. I still believe that there is One who “Judges rightly and righteously”. I still have HOPE for a better future.

    • William Robert Guerra

      wow…you’re really wrong….the system did NOT fail us as justice was correctly served….trayvon martin was NOT someone with great potential as he has proven to be a thief and a drug dealer – is that really who you would encourage young black men to emulate? that and the fact that he was the one who attacked george zimmerman that night….again, wow…

  • Kevin Nichols

    That was awesome way of letting your congregation know that God is still in control. I take about not allowing the next person to get murdered by preaching. Making a difference makes a differences. Mark 2:1-12 how that paralytic man had four friends who thought enough of his to bring him to Jesus. Their efforts affect the man and everyone around him.