Ethics: George Zimmerman Secretly Visits Your Church

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What would you do Wednesday!

The tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman that happened in Sanford, FL has taken over the internet recently.1 Passionate replies have been poured out from both Martin and Zimmerman supporters.

Many in the court of public opinion have already tried Zimmerman and found him guilty of murder. Others believe that Martin may have brought the confrontation and shooting upon himself by causing Zimmerman to act in self-defense. Yet, what seems to be a minority of responders have decided to wait until all of the evidence is presented before a judge and jury to make a personal judgement. Due to all of the publicity, Zimmerman is currently in hiding.

In spite of all of the opinions on the Martin-Zimmerman case, I’d like to ask how Christians might respond if George Zimmerman came out of hiding to visit your church Sunday morning. I have seen a range of comments from my fellow Christians on Facebook which echo my observations above about holding personal judgements on the case.

The scenario. You notice a visitor at church on Sunday morning just prior to Sunday School. After Sunday School, right before worship service begins, you get to meet the visitor. He simply introduces himself as George and says he is in the area visiting relatives. He looks somewhat familiar, but you can’t quite figure out why.

Just as the call to worship is given, it hits you – George Zimmerman!

After quickly and quietly asking if he is the George Zimmerman, he affirms and asks that you keep his identity quiet. He explains that he really needed some Christian fellowship and spiritual nourishment so he decided to visit a local church where he most likely would not be recognized.

The worship time begins and the sermon today is providentially about forgiveness.

After worship time, a couple of your fellow church members think they recognize Zimmerman, but aren’t exactly sure. The members saw you talking to Zimmerman, so they come up to you and ask about the visitor. You affirm that it is the George Zimmerman. A few of your friends aren’t sure what to say or do though at least one of them is visibly angry.

How would you treat George Zimmerman?

  • Sneak out during the sermon can call the local media.
  • Ask him when he is going to turn himself in and admit to murder.
  • Greet him as a professing Christian and talk to him about forgiveness.
  • Ask him how you can pray for him.
  • Or…
  1. City of Sanford Florida. Trayvon Martin Investigation. http://sanfordfl.gov.
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tagged as , , in Christianity,Church Issues,Culture

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cathy M. April 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm

To my knowledge, he’s not a fugitive. He will have his day in court. As Christians we are held to different standards of thought and conduct, which are typically in opposition to the emotional reactions of our fallen nature.

I’d pray for him, but I wouldn’t be too quick to embrace him as a brother. For SURE, I’d sit far behind him and near an exit… he could still be armed.

2 Jamie (SirBrass) April 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Considering that this didn’t hit the big time till a month after the incident and both the cops and the local prosecutor were (before the media storm and pressure) not willing to pursue charges… I have NO right to suddenly be demanding justice. Granted, he could indeed be guilty of murder. However, in this land the accused is given the presumption of innocence. As a Christian, I’m called to be personally merciful. So, if this man comes to my church desiring of fellowship, what right under Almighty God do I have to offer anything less than the warm hand of fellowship? Obviously I don’t know if he’s a Christian or not, but I have no right to be anything other than hospitable.

So, I’d be hospitable to the poor guy, ask him how I could pray for him and otherwise talk about the things of God with him. And let the judiciary get itself sorted out first, b/c here is an actual instance where Jesus’ admonition of, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” is clearly applicable.

3 Robert I Masters April 4, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I would ….Ask him how you can pray for him.

rule of law……. let the judicial system work.

Cathy M
Why does being armed concern you. As far I understand the facts he has no history of firearms violations.
Also contrary to what Richard Land said on National television his firearm that was used in the shooting was taken by the Sanford police.
It should also be noted that his legally able to obtain a new one in his home state of Florida.
I would want to have one with groups like the New Black Panthers calling for his citizen arrest.

4 Chris April 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I would ask him how I could pray for him. If his side of the story is true, I would have no reason to talk to him about forgiveness regarding the shooting because he would not need it.

5 Christiane April 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I hope some common sense begins to come in country soon. A child is dead. His screams are on record. A man claims he was attacked by the child, a boy of seventeen. And he says that he killed the boy in self-defense, after having stalked him and questioned him without the permission of the police.

Could the frightened boy have ‘attacked’ the private citizen, and did he deserve to die because of that?

So many questions.
Maybe the legal system should investigate so that there will be something on record for the ‘next incident’ . . . and be assured, there will be a ‘next incident’.

Guns. Race. Fear. Death.
Welcome to the United States of America of the new millenium.
You may HAVE to carry a gun to survive.
Are seventeen year olds allowed to carry guns for their own protection?
(I don’t know. But if Zimmerman walked free, maybe we should arm our seventeen year olds for their own safety.)

Or should we begin to behave responsibly as a people with common sense in a free country where our children are not targeted, stalked, and slain for walking through a neighborhood? And a wannabe cop was drawn to a young man of seventeen with a hoodie, black skin, a bag of skittle, and some ice tea, in order to question him and then take his life, and then be set free at the order of authorities ?

6 Chris April 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Christiane,

If Zimmerman’s story is factual, he was the one stalked and brutally attacked as he was returning to his vehicle. If his reports are true, he may have been killed by the “boy” if Florida did not have the good sense of allowing men and women to protect themselves from aggressors. Maybe Zimmerman’s story is untrue, and he is indeed guilty of murder. We don’t know. Why not let the authorities do their investigation and pray that they uncover the truth and act justly in light of that truth? Either way, as a pastor, not knowing what happened and awaiting to hear from the investigators, it would not be my place to respond in the way that you have responded.

7 Robert I Masters April 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Christiane,
Jesus was all about love and grace, not about condemnation and judgementalism which you seem to consign to a man who you do not know at all.

8 Chris Roberts April 4, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Chris,

Zimmerman’s story really only makes sense if his initial suspicions about Treyvon were correct; they were not, Treyvon wasn’t who Zimmerman thought he was and he wasn’t doing what Zimmerman thought he was doing.

Mark,

I’d likely treat him as anyone else visiting my church. I have my opinions on the case (hinted at in what I just said) but it’s in the hands of the justice system. So long as he remains legally free, he would hear from me what any other visitor would hear. Now if he came to me for council of some sort, that would be a different story.

9 Chris April 4, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Chris,

Fill me in if I am missing something. Zimmerman’s story is that Martin looked suspicious. He followed Martin and lost him. On the way back to the vehicle, Martin attacked him from behind and began to beat him ruthlessly. Zimmerman fear for his life and shot Martin. What does all this have to do with whether or not Zimmerman’s initial thoughts concerning Martin were true? How does this not add up? Again, I do not know if this is really what happened. If Zimmerman is lying, I hope he is brought to justice. If he is telling the truth, I hope he is vindicated. I have no judgment either way. I just wish others would withhold judgment until the authorities make a final decision as well.

10 Chris Roberts April 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Chris,

Doesn’t make since that someone like Trayvon would come up to Zimmerman and begin to beat him in the way Zimmerman describes. Someone breaking into houses just might do something like that, but a kid walking back home from the store?

11 Chris April 4, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Chris,

How in the world do you know what kind of a kid Martin was? You do not have enough information to come to the conclusion that you have made.

12 Peter L April 4, 2012 at 9:55 pm

I say: Greet him as a professing Christian and talk to him about forgiveness andask him how you can pray for him. The poor guy is being harassed by a bunch of (pardon the cliché and accusation) racists who only want this to go viral so they can keep their jobs. What would not-so-reverends Sharpton and Jackson do without racial tensions? I heard one of them talk about a lynching, referring to how Martin was killed. No, they want to lynch Zimmerman.

13 Chris Roberts April 4, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Chris,

True, which is why ultimately judgment must be reserved. But my leanings are drawing from the information put out there by multiple sources. Like you, all I can do is read what others have said and it’s from those sources that I’ve drawn my opinions.

.

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