An article on Relevant Magazine's web site shares some thoughts from Erwin McManus, pastor of Mosaic church and author of The Barbarian Way (among other books).
A quote of his I agree with:
I have so much confidence in the reality of Jesus that I feel no pressure to try to make people act or be a certain way. I’m banking everything on the fact that God actually changes people. For me, I don’t do what I do because I have to. As well, I don’t make my life choices because I worried about judgment or anything like that. For me, my whole motivation in life is love. And ironically, I know a lot of people think that to be irreligious means that they cuss a lot or drink a lot, and that’s where we are finding our freedom. But actually, what is happening is we’re finding safe ways to be risky. If you really want to be risky, do something that is genuinely valuable and risky at the same time. I don’t need to smoke a cigar to feel fully alive. I felt fully alive when I was in the middle of the Hezbollah.
A quote of his I disagree with:
I don’t have much value for religion. I don’t feel any need to defend Christianity. I think Christianity is the same as Buddhism and Hinduism—whenever a religion begins to say that these are the things you have to do to be loved by God, you have a religion...The irony is that we cannot have Christianity without religion and relationship. Christianity at its beatiful core is a supernatural relationship; our religion is the way we interact with that relationship on a human level. I'm not fond of the latter reality myself, but I'm striving towards the purity of the former. Until heaven, though, we have to settle for the fact that we are all reaching out toward the supernatural in the best way we know how... and thankfully, God is reaching back through Jesus Christ. Once anything becomes a religion it can easily become legalistic ("Here's what you do to manipulate life and eternity") or fatalistic ("You can do nothing to change anything because God is sovereign."). Being a Christ-follower means somehow peacefully living in the tension of the middle.
But here's where I agree with Erwin McManus again:
The defining difference is not that you have to do these things to be loved by God, it’s that God loves you, and if you would just turn around, you’d run right into His love. The Scriptures tell us that we are unconditionally loved, and we cannot lose that love. That’s a huge risk because now God can’t motivate us through fear, or judgment, or wrath—I mean He has actually leveraged everything where He believes in the power of love to change us. That’s a huge risk.