Tradition is an incredibly powerful tool. In fact, Jesus said it was so powerful that it could make the Word of God have no effect in your life (Mk 7:9-13). This neutralizing effect happens when tradition becomes as much a part of our belief system as the Word of God. Tradition is the product of the ideas and perceptions that
have been repeated so frequently that they become accepted as reality. Once this happens, they are as important to us as the Bible itself. Tradition is not something about which we are passive. It is something we attempt to guard, maintain, and
defend. It is a part of who wee are. We understand ourselves through our traditions; therefore, we fight to preserve them.
Tradition becomes a part of our emotional fabric through a simple mental process. Once we accept a certain opinion, the mind begins to seek equilibrium. In other words, if you believe it to be true, the mind seeks to prove it is true. In fact, if you do not determine something to be false and you continually expose yourself to the idea or behavior, it will, in time, be determined to be acceptable and factual. This is the subtlety of deceit.
This isn't something that happens on a mere emotional level. Your mind works 'til your beliefs and your sense of reality are well balanced. There is a set of nerves at the base of the skull called the Reticular Activating System. Once we accept something or pass a judgment, activity in this area of the brain affects our reasoning process. A neurological process begins in our brain to establish it
as fact. It alters our ability to perceive. It literally causes us to see it as we believe it to be. I call this process 'selective reasoning.'
If you believe something to be true, your mind will seek to prove it true.
In selective reasoning we stop seeing things as they are and seek to prove what we have already chosen to believe. It is like looking at a word and thinking it says 'horse.' You read the sentence over and over again, and finally realize that it says 'house.' You could've sworn that it said h-o-r-s-e. Why were you so sure, yet so wrong? Your mind had already determined what it was seeing.
Our traditions begin the moment we insist that we see. The moment a new paradigm is established, we have begun to form a new tradition. It is at that moment that we become blind to anything other than our point of view. Once it is accepted as truth, we begin a process of unquestioned repetition until we can't conceive of any other
point of view.
The Pharisees heard the message of God's love and forgiveness, yet they insisted their doctrine was right. Because they clung to their point of view, they could never see what the Scriptures really said. Thus, they not only rejected the truth, the also crucified the One who brought the truth. "Some Pharisees who were with Him
heard Him say this and asked, 'What? Are we blind too?' Jesus said, 'If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains'" (Jn 9:40-41). Insisting that we see is the road to blindness and tradition. Once something is accepted as fact, it is acted upon without thought or
All that we must do to see is to honestly "consider other possibilities". The Word of God holds so many possibilities to which we have already closed our mind. Therefore it is impossible to see them. We are so consumed with defending our position that we, like the Pharisees, crucify those who bring the truth that will
set us free. We must relieve ourselves of the need to prove we are right. Why do we place so much of our self-worth on being right? What I currently see about any subject may be right or wrong. It may have nuggets of truth as well as nuggets of error. Being right or wrong changes neither who I am in Jesus, nor my position before
those with whom I interact. We place far too much emphasis on the need to be right, and too little emphasis on the need to serve and build up.
If interested, here's more on the Reticular Activating System, and how we see, or don't see, truth: http://www.sourcetext.com/sourcebook/essays/scotoma.html
And a short video description: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5vyLyFo77M