Many people–Christian or not–have heard of the Sermon on the Mount. It’s one of the best-known passages of the New Testament. In this sermon, Jesus outlines the characteristics of people who are blessed. It’s not an appealing list: “poor in spirit”, “those who mourn”, “gentle”, “hunger and thirst for righteousness”, “merciful”, “pure in heart”, “peacemakers”, “persecuted”, “insulted and falsely accused”. Where are “rich”, “prosperous”, “famous”, “powerful”, “strong”?
Jesus doesn’t shy away from the fact that following Him is not a guarantee for an easy or glamorous lifestyle. He also isn’t giving those who will follow him a pass to just “be a Christian and get to heaven.” He demands much more than that.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house.
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
During Andy’s message on Sunday I couldn’t help but think about how this requirement of believes is exactly how the Guinness (yes, the beer) family lived in exactly this same way.
I just finished reading “The Search for God and Guiness” by Stephen Mansfield (affiliate link) over the weekend. It’s a fascinating look into both the history of Guinness beer as well as the larger impact the Guinness family had on the world.
The Guinness family took matters of faith very seriously and used their great position and wealth to impact Ireland, and the world. Throughout the Guinness history, they built better housing for the poor; they provided health care, social activities, higher education, and job security for their employees; they cared for the families of the men they employed while they were fighting in World War 1.
Sunday schools were founded in Ireland by the Guinness family; homes for orphans were built; missionary programs to China and other countries were established; churches were built. An entire line of preachers came from the Guinness family and were as famous for their sermons and teachings in their day as Dwight Moody, General William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army), Martin Luther, and John Calvin.
The Guinness family was extremely wealthy, but lived their lives as salt and light to Ireland and the world. They didn’t have to be overt about it because everything they said and did glorified God. They cared for the widows and the orphans, treated everyone fairly, defended the outcasts, supported their own families, and spread the Gospel around the world.
Henry Grattan Guinness lived his life for God as a preacher and missionary. In the epilogue of the book Henry is said to have a favorite saying:
“Gentlemen, find out the will of God for your day and generation, and then, as quickly as possible, get into line.
Prince Albert (page 254)
Many in the Guinness family lived this way even without this quote. They never had to think twice about what God wanted of them and how they were to use their position and influence in society. They were a light unto their world, bringing faith and hope to people desperately in need of something more. They were salt of the earth, preserving the life of those they came into contact with, caring deeply about everyone and helping raise people from poverty when possible.