Violence around the world in the wake of a sleazy anti-Muslim video has overshadowed the rebellion in Syria against the Assad regime. Following the overthrow of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, the Syrian uprising has been largely cast as a Muslim sectarian conflict.
Sectarian violence in not limited to Islam. Historically, Christians have fought each other over issues of the faith, including the Protestant/Catholic violence in Northern Ireland. But that conflict was less direct religious opposition and more a political hijacking of differences in belief.
Much the same can be said of the rebellion in Syria against the Assad regime. Much has been said of Muslim factions fighting each other. But King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has stated: “Any sane Arab, Muslim, or anyone else knows that this uprising has nothing to do with religion, ethics, or morals.”
The uprisings across the middle east have been against totalitarian regimes that exploited and oppressed the population. The brutal repression of the Assad regime in Syria is simply an extension of that oppression.
Why are most of these uprisings eventually successful. Few doubt the ability of Assad to win. Some have suggested Assad’s brutal crackdown has sufficiently reduced his legitimacy to weaken him and bring him down. But Stalin survived his greater cruel regime.
The reason why the Syrian uprising will probably succeed is a simple equation: the oppressed have nothing to lose, the oppressors have everything to lose. Those with nothing to lose, are prepared to give their lives; those with much to lose, guard their lives for it. Eventually, the stronger motivation will win.
That is why Christianity stands or falls according to the depth of its believer’s devotion. Do we reckon ourselves devoted, for life or death, to His cause? Our answer may be the measure of the ability of Christianity to survive.