In a book I am reading, the author made some comments which got me to thinking about the word "gospel". How do we normally view the gospel- most probably as a message which must be proclaimed to the world. It amounts to words on a page which everyone needs to hear and heed.
The Apostle Paul defined the gospel as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Elsewhere he proclaimed that he was committed to nothing but Jesus and his crucifixion. Thus the church has built an understanding that the essential element of the gospel is the historical validity of these divinely orchestrated events and their effect on the relationship between God and man.
The author I mentioned suggested that the gospel was more correctly seen as a lifestyle. More than something to be believed and proclaimed, it was something to be lived. It is the basis for what Jesus called abundant living. It is eternal life, not in the sense of unending duration but rather of assured quality.
In considering this as the true essence of the gospel, I re-look at the words of Paul above. What could he have meant other than that he stressed the essential elements of a story? Perhaps he meant that his emphasis was on the lesson embodied in this story, one of a life based on love, humility, and self sacrifice. Until we know what the gospel changes, we likely don't understand the gospel at all. You preach the gospel by living it. Anything less is a tinkling cymbal as in I Corinthians 13:1.
How am I doing with that? I struggle.