Lots of people think of God like a circus ringmaster and that religious people are like those poor animals who are made to to jump through hoops, run up ramps, balance on balls and go and fetch sticks in order to please him, earn his acceptance and so get a reward. They imagine that God will whip us when we step out of line.
But God is not like a circus ringmaster and we are not animals trained to perform tricks in order for God to love and accept us. God is loving and he has perfect standards but we don’t earn his love and approval or escape punishment by keeping those standards ourselves. God loved people so much he sent his Son to die for us, taking the punishment we deserve for being untamed, feral beasts (John 3:16). We are made acceptable to God through hating the mess we make, the offence we cause God but loving Christ as he first loved us and gave himself for us (1 John 4:10). Acceptance comes through Christ and the desire to keep God’s standards flows from this acceptance.