The gospel is not abstract, it is not private, it is not simply about having some interior experience.
The gospel means community. It means the breaking and laying down of the boundaries and distinctions that exist between people. It means a new identity ‘in Christ’.
Christians today should not be content to say that for Paul the gospel was about how individuals are accepted by God – by faith. And only then add, ‘Oh yes, and that also meant that Jew and Gentile could come together in the same community, could eat together, and be fully accepted by each other’. For that was at the heart of the gospel for Paul. It was not the gospel unless it meant that Jew and Gentile could worship together, could sit at the same table, together form one body, the one worshipping congregation… For Paul, if the gospel did not have a social effect, a breaking down of of racial and national antagonism and disharmony, it was not the gospel… It simply is impossible for me to be accepted by God if I do not welcome and fully respect those who are also accepted by God.James D.G. Dunn, Jesus, Paul, and the Gospels, 163
If the gospel does not demand this kind of life of you, if it does not transport you into something like that, it is very probably not the gospel.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
Those are words addressed to the disciples about life in the kingdom-community of God.
Those words touch on the communal dynamics of a gospel community.
The gospel means a community that embraces the poor, the sinner, the enemy, the friend, the young, the old, the gay, the straight, the Catholic, the Protestant.
The gospel means a community which exchanges acceptance, and love, and trust, and compassion, and forgiveness, and peace, and non-violence.
If those are absent, there, very probably, the gospel has not spoken.
If we are working the Pauline line, the gospel looks a bit like this,
There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:22-24 (NIV)
So that Paul can elsewhere say this,
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28 (NIV)
If we do not register that for Paul (but just not Paul, Jesus and the disciples as well) the gospel was the message of a new community, a new people, with a new way of life that lived out of the life of Jesus himself, in representation of him (that is what ‘in Christ’ is getting at). This community in embodying this life extends out to others the very same embrace Jesus extended to others. The life of Jesus instigated and modelled this community, and his death and resurrection vindicated and brought it to bear on us all, as a community energized by the resurrection life of Jesus himself.
This is the gospel, it is the kingdom come, it is the Jesus community happening, it is not solely a message for individuals and, for Paul, this means it was never all about you.