Why does religion appeal to our selfishness? Why must eternal life be the reward for following Jesus? Why not serve God and then perish?
What is “eternity” anyway? We cannot conceive an infinity of time. “Eternal life” means that we will never face the moment when we know we will die. This moment is what we fear, not death itself.
May I suggest a workaround to your fear of death? When that moment is presented to you, fantasize about something else. Imagine you are in a much better place and time. Take your mind off the present. If you can do this, you no longer need fear death. (If you do not have the imaginative powers to fantasize, then devote your life to developing such powers).
The only reason to seek immortality is because one is confused about death, which means one is confused about life. Every day we lose consciousness when we sleep, which does not terrify us. We believe we will wake up again. In essence, we believe in our own resurrection. This belief separates sleep from death. It is a fine line.
Is eternal life really such a desirable thing? Won’t you get incredibly bored? You will repeat the same pattern in your life millions, billions, trillions of times (and more). Isn’t it better to lead a rewarding life and then gracefully (and hopefully painlessly) check out? Worried about facing death? See the above workaround.
Christians believe in “heaven forever”, meaning a wonderful situation that persists. Can we really imagine this? The only way to avoid boredom is to periodically forget one’s past. Isn’t that the same as the “old” you dying and a “new” you taking it’s place? If you forget your past, your are effectively a different person. Therefore, you have effectively died because your old self is gone.
Embrace the transient nature of your life, which is in fact a wonderful gift.
God sent His only Son to die for your sins. Christ was sacrificed on the cross for you.
What have you done for God?
The Bible promises that if you follow Jesus, you will have eternal life. Isn’t that a small price to pay for following Him? It’s almost a “no brainer”: be a decent person, go to church once per week, repent your sins before you die and you will never face death.
This begs the question: why are you following God’s commandments? Is it for purely selfish reasons, because you want immortality? Does following God’s commandments constitute the most selfish of acts?
Shouldn’t you follow God’s commandments because Jesus is Lord, and following the Lord is simply the right thing to do? As a Christian, you need never answer that question. You will never need to sacrifice for the sake of goodness. That’s part of the bargain. Be good, and you will be rewarded with ever-lasting life.
What of atheists, or others, who in fact sacrifice and devote their lives to a greater good? That is true sacrifice, and true goodness, because no bargain is involved. These atheists will never be rewarded for being good, unlike Christians.
Who embodies a more pure sense of goodness: those who do good for a huge reward, or those who do good because of what they believe in?
Religion can encourage what is, at its core, a deep selfishness. Christianity does not ask you to do good out of a sense of devotion and worship. Rather, do good because it will bring you significant personal gain. In my view, there is a problem with that message.