How Many Holes Does a Straw Have?

bible perspective

Consider the simple straw. Does it have two holes or one?

This question divides us into two-holers (one on each end) and one-holers (one hole all the way through). Let's see which one makes more sense.

For those of you who say it has two holes (one on each end), imagine shortening the length of the straw so that it becomes smaller and smaller. Then extend the width of the straw itself. Now you have something that looks more like a donut.

How many holes does a donut have? Most of us would argue that there is only one; therefore, this way of analyzing the straw breaks down.

For those of you who say a straw has one hole (one hole all the way through), imagine a water bottle instead. It would have a hole at the top to allow you to drink from it. Now imagine you added a parallel hole at the bottom of the water bottle. 

How many holes does a water bottle have if you cut a hole in the bottom of it? Most of us would argue that there are two; therefore, this way of analyzing the straw breaks down.

Isn't this fun?

How can something as simple as a straw cause so much confusion?

It reminds me of one of my favorite questions Jesus ever asked. Luke's gospel tells us that a person who was an expert in the law (the rules and conduct of the Old Testament) asked Jesus this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

This is the question most Christians wish they could be asked. Give him the Gospel! Pump him with the four spiritual laws and the Romans road. He's ready to convert! 

But rather than giving this man an answer, Jesus offers him a question of His own. “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26).

How do you read it?

What a shocking question for God-in-the-flesh to ask. It's a question that invites multiple perspectives rather than facts with certainty.

What does it matter how he makes sense of it? Are the 613 laws of the Old Testament up for interpretation? Are there multiple ways to read the law of Moses?

Or what about us, does it matter how we make sense of God?

Think of all the things Jesus could have said. This man isn't looking for an entry-level answer, he's already spent much of his life diving into the law of Moses. He's trying to see if this rabbi with all the hype around Him has any special knowledge. Rather than give the expert the answer he's looking for, Jesus asks him to offer up his own perspective in making sense of it.

It's kind of like trying to determine the number of holes in a straw. Sometimes, there are no simple answers, and the way we wrestle with the question matters more than we realize. In fact, maybe Jesus enjoys watching us work through our different ideas of God. It also reminds us that there is value in people who can come up with answers that make sense but differ from ours. Perhaps things aren't as clearly defined as we'd like them to be.

As the English writer Samuel Johnson noted, "The existence of twilight is not an argument against the distinction between night and day."

The expert in the law answers Jesus' question and then asks another one, to which Jesus replies with a story rather than an answer. Evidently, Jesus is interested in getting us to think for ourselves rather than giving us a list of creeds to wrap our hands around. The author Daniel Taylor says "Demanding certainty is metaphysical gluttony. You are insisting on a state of knowledge inconsistent with the human condition." It appears that Jesus is quite content with the human condition.

How many holes are there in a straw?

How do you read it?

Header photo by Carly Jayne on Unsplash

HT: I got the idea for this post after watching this video.

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