GOSSIP – A person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others.
Somehow, despite the lack of social media, internet, phones even, from the Day of Pentecost, the Early Church spread quickly throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. The Early Church was dynamic, crossing cultural borders with ease. It spread across water, across language barriers with ease. A small movement from the corner of Palestine by the 4th Century was a prominent part of Society.
Historians often use the phrase “gossiping the Gospel” to explain how the Early Christians witnessed their faith. Given that during the first 3 centuries of the Church, the Christians were persecuted harshly and driven underground for much of the time, this witnessing is even more admirable.
“This must often have been not formal preaching, but the informal chattering to friends and chance acquaintances, in homes and wine shops, on walks, and around market stalls. They were everywhere gossiping the gospel; they did it naturally, enthusiastically, and with the conviction of those who are not paid to say that sort of thing. Consequently, they were taken seriously, and the movement spread” (Evangelism in the Early Church).
The Early Church really laid down the gauntlet for us. Without the aid of technology and often at the risk of their lives, they could not hide the Gospel from their neighbours. Today, can we do the same?
Gossiping the Gospel is only possible if our faith goes beyond our words. The Good news must be thoroughly a part of our lives if we can hope that people will pay attention to our talk. Peter and John said in Acts 4:20 that “We cannot but speak the things we have heard and seen.” In this lies the key. It wasn’t just mere words. They were gossiping about the transformational power and miracles that they had seen. The gossip was about their personal transformations, the many miracles and healings that were reported, and even the witness of the martyrs as they were killed.
From the comfort of my 21st Century life, with the many tools at my fingertips (literally!) for communicating, and without the risk of persecution, I am challenged, provoked even, to be a better gossiper of the Gospel.