TONY ELDER: Let the Lord clothe you in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience

It seems that every set of Olympic Games has its controversies or scandals. They may be centered around questionable judging, the behavior of athletes, problems with the venue, or a variety of other issues.

This year's event is no exception. Even before it has gotten started there has been a sizable uproar about the team from the United States. Of all things, it's about their clothing for the opening ceremonies.

You've probably heard the public outcry which arose from the revelation that the apparel of our U.S. delegation for that initial event was manufactured in China. That fact really shouldn't surprise us, considering all the other items we use that are made outside our own country.

It seemed especially hypocritical for a number of political figures to denounce this situation when, in my opinion, their policies have played a big role in creating it.

Yet it's understandable to expect that on such an occasion of national pride and international competition that our athletes would be clothed in garments reflecting the creativity and capabilities of our own citizens.

Similarly, shouldn't it be expected that those who are followers of Christ would be clothed in attire which reflects a divine origin and is appropriate for those whose citizenship resides in heaven? No, I'm not talking about long dresses and black suits, not even about white robes and halos.

The Bible refers to our putting off and putting on certain characteristics, attitudes, and behaviors much like a person would do with clothes. For example, Colossians 3:8 tells us to put off such things as anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy language. In contrast, a few verses later it issues the command to "clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience" (3:12).

Such opposing qualities are sometimes described in Scripture as being either "of the flesh" or "of the Spirit." The components of one group are produced by the sinful condition of human beings apart from God. They are common qualities which fit right in with this fallen world in which we presently live.

However, the characteristics listed in the other category are the result of individuals being transformed through a divine act resulting in the Spirit of God coming to live within them. Those who possess those qualities will often find themselves out-of-place in this world and more in harmony with their future heavenly home.

Have you ever watched that TV show, "What Not to Wear"? It's the one where someone whose wardrobe needs a drastic improvement gets a makeover. The hosts assist the person in realizing the flaws in her usual manner of dressing, while discarding most of her old clothes. Then they provide the means and expertise for that individual to find better outfits to wear.

I'm afraid there are too many Christians who need such makeovers when it comes to their spiritual attire. We're still wearing the wrong clothes. We look and act like people who don't know the Lord. We're not listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as He tries to cleanse us of the old ways and supply us with a whole new set of clothes.

During one of the news programs examining this controversy about the Olympic uniforms, the reporter kept revealing the tags on the jackets, shirts, and berets reading "Made in China." If someone could pull out and read the tags of our hearts and lives, what would they say -- "Made of the Flesh" or "Made of the Spirit"?

Let's cooperate with God as He seeks to clothe us with those Christlike qualities which are appropriate for the citizens of heaven.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.