As many of you know, one of my best friends, Scott Hauser, lost his battle with cancer last Thursday. Tomorrow, I will be flying out to Wisconsin to participate in his funeral. Scott served as one of my references when the PNC and I were in conversation. He participated in my installation as pastor of the United Parish of Bowie. He was part of the clergy group that I get together with at least once a year. This does not begin to touch on what he meant to me, personally. If I had to pick the people who had the biggest influence in shaping my approach to ministry, he would be top three without a doubt.
I learned a lot of things from Scott. I learned how to calculate pot odds in poker. I learned how to appreciate good Kentucky bourbon. We would often talk about church, theology, politics, sports, family, and many other things. He even tried to teach me to love baseball, but there were somethings even he could not do! Even in his dying, he continues to teach me.
The way Scott died demonstrated his faith. While there is still much grieving, the fact that he was at peace has provided a lot of peace to me. During one of his last conversations with his wife, she asked him “Who do you belong to?” “I belong to God,” he responded. After his passing, though, something happened that I had never seen. Facebook exploded. Hundreds of people started sharing different pictures and stories about how Scott had touched their lives. As a pastor of a large church, you might expect a lot of these to be church members. There were some, but it was a collection of people from throughout his life, from childhood to high school to college. Every stage of his life was represented. It was amazing and a testament to his life and his faith. He loved all these people because God first loved him and he had made an impact on their lives because of it.
I stumbled across a quote this morning, by author Dallas Willard. It said, “The Gospel is less about how to get into the Kingdom of Heaven after you die, and more about how to live in the Kingdom of Heaven before you die.” Even though Scott knew that, through Christ, he would inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, that is not why he lived the Gospel. He lived the Gospel so that could live in the Kingdom of Heaven every day and so that he could share that Kingdom with everyone he encountered. All the stories shared about Scott attest to the pieces of the Kingdom of heaven he shared. By living the Gospel, he shared the Kingdom far and wide.
Just as Scott taught me and inspired me in life, he teaches me and inspires me in death. We should all be inspired to live the Gospel in every aspect of our lives, to share the Kingdom with all with everyone we meet. Not in hopes of heavenly reward, but because we love, because Jesus first loved us.
Romans 14:8 “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”