The primary gimmick of Christianity specifically (and most – if not all – religions in general), is the notion of some sort of “Afterlife”.
The details differ, especially to the extent that the various “Dharmic” religions (IE: Hinduism and its derivatives) concept of an “Afterlife” consists of reincarnation (with one’s position being determined – at least in part – by “Karma”).
The various Monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Mormon, Islam, etc.) typically lack any notion of reincarnation – claiming instead an eternal “reward” or “punishment” of some kind – either predicated on the “beliefs” one espouses, or the actions in which one engages – or both.
Now, I’m going to put this out here: even the vanishingly-small number of religious “believers” who actually understand – and “believe” the claims made by those religions) – are essentially hypocrites.
Here’s what I mean:
Religions survive primarily because most people are content to (uncritically and – if possible – mindlessly) ape and parrot the words/motions of the particular geographic/demographic subculture within which they were “raised”.
In most cases, they don’t really understand the truth-claims put forward by religious “authorities”, and have only a nebulous idea as to why they engage in the specific “practices” endemic to their geographic/demographic subculture.
At least in terms of Christianity, the (vanishingly few) who can actually be said to “believe” in its tenets mostly do so on the – implicit or explicit – basis that doing so will somehow exempt them from an eternity of hellfire and “wrath” – orchestrated by Yahweh, and inflicted either as punishment for the “original sin” of Adam and Eve, the individual “sins” of the “believer” – or both.
IN other words: the aping and parroting involved in “Christianity” amounts to a “Get out of hell free” card.
Now, one of the things which I’ve always wondered about Christianity is: isn’t the worship of “God” supposed to be an “end in itself?” This is the implication of the entire “Book of Job”, after all.
In the Book of Job, Yahweh “permits” Satan to: kill Job’s family, and livestock, destroy all of his physical property, and cover him in agonizing boils – all as a “test”, in order to ascertain whether Job “worships” Yahweh as an end-in-itself (IE: without regard to whether such “worship” actually benefits him, or not.
The entire premise of “God”/”the Gods” is the attempt to escape the fact of human agency – to cast oneself as an impotent puppet in thrall to the Entitiy/entities (supposedly) pulling one’s strings.
So, Job is portrayed as “righteous”, because he continues to “worship” Yahweh even while Yahweh is “permitting” him – and all of the other humans/animals unlucky enough to be part of his “household” – to be tortured/slaughtered.
(Fun fact: his various chattels – wife/shildren/”servants” – are basically treated as collateral damage – the torture/slaughter of which is, basically, incidental to “testing” Job himself).
At any rate, given that the sole excuse most “Christians” give for “worshipping” their particular god-man is either the “get out of hell free” thing (vicarious atonement), or incredibly inane examples of “Miraculous” incidents in their own lives (IE: some woman who just happened to find two dollars in her winter coat-pocket, after having squandered what she thought to be her last two dollars, by dumping it into a collection-plate, rather than use it to buy food for her children) — my question is: would “Christians” continue to “Worship” their particular “God”, absent “heaven” as a “bribe?”
I don’t think they would.
Quite frankly, any religion resorting to the “carrot and stick” gimmick (“Heaven”and “hell”) strikes me as a particularly shitty “protection”-racket. Nothing more, less or other than that:
I’m pretty sure any religion which refrained from doing the “carrot and stick” thing would fairly quickly (within a few generations), would lose its adherents.
Bottom line: if “Worship” were truly an end-in-itself, Christians wouldn’t need to excuse doing so, on the grounds that they are (supposedly) allowing Jesus to buy their way out of hell – because they would admit that it was totally up to the whims (er, I mean “mysterious ways”) of their “God”, whether or not He chose to “permit” them to experience an eternity in Hell, or not.
So, no: Christians don’t “worship” as an end-in-itself. Rather, they do so as a mere means – either of social conformity – or in hopes of avoiding an eternity of hellfire.