We can’t, in the end, separate the gospel from relationships. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians,
So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. (1 Th.2:8)
It’s not the picture of Paul that we often form, but it’s a picture that runs through the narrative of Acts. Paul isn’t just writing letters from afar to people he’s never met. His care for the churches to which he writes comes from his knowledge of them and love for them in the flesh, and here he seems to be writing more out of necessity than out of choice.
I believe that this was the first of Paul’s letters to be written, and perhaps later as his ministry and correspondence became more widespread, Paul was able to place less emphasis on this face to face care and love. But here it shines through. The gospel is not some abstract message which can be exhaustively summarised and written down for universal consumption. It is a message made flesh in human lives and relationships.
That is surely as true now as it was then – so how can I show and speak the gospel today?