"By their fruits shall ye know them." (Matthew 7:20).
Jesus was specifically referring to the Pharisees and Saducees in this scripture criticizing false prophets. But like so many of his parables, this criticism can be applied more broadly to correct other falsehoods within the body.
Jesus talks about how no good tree will bear bad fruit and no bad tree good fruit. So what fruit does the world see from your life?
Too many of us do not exhibit fruits of the spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and temperance (Galatians 5:23)—but those of the world—intolerance, anger, instigation, impatience, aloofness, condemnation, suspicion conceit and overbearing.
What is it the world sees when they look at you? What do your neighbours see? If you live in the Bay Area, you get a lot of resistance to the Christian faith. But is your faith reflected in your day-to-day life, or do those who reject God do so because you reject them?
Is your Facebook page filled with partisan political messages, criticism of those you disagree with, jokes at someone else's expense or assumptions about the character of people you have never met? Is it focused on the trivial things of this world, like the success of sports teams (guilty!) or the propogation of material goods and comforts?
This is not to say one should put on a facade. We should be true to who we are in what we reflect to the world. But we must strive to make our messages ones that will broaden the Kingdom of God and give salt and light to the world.
We also must take care that we do not overdo either: Salt in small quantities is good, but too much of it kills; light in reasonable intensity helps one to see while too bright a light blinds. Oversalting the spiritual food and a blinding self-righteousness will only keep people from the love of God.
This point was illustrated in a piece I wrote on how fan actions can bring a bad reflection on that team, but also on the church for not feeding the spiritual needs of the people. Are we not God's ambassadors? Do we not want to be good representatives that make others want to be fans of Him?
Like Pastor Paul Sheppard of Abundant Life in Mountain View, CA, once said on his KFAX radio show, Enduring Truth, you have to catch the fish before you can clean them. We all need to make sure we are showing who God really is tp the world.