"Religion is our negotiation with God to try to get his help in exchange for our good behavior. WE promise to do what we're told, and we expect God to reward us. This is a straightforward business arrangement, and we fully expect it to work. Meanwhile, we talk about being God's child as if we're family. But in our performance-for-reward arrangement, things don't operate on grace. Under the rules of religion, God is kept at arm's length and expected to be involved only to the degree that he gives us what we think we deserve.
The contrast between relationship and religion is obvious: beloved son or begrudging slave? We all would prefer the former, and we resent that the church has given us religion that leads to the latter. But even if you have left the church, it's unlikely that you left this chapter of the story. Humans are religious by nature, and our natural attraction to religion causes us to manufacture a god that operates according to our sense of right and wrong. Our god is glad to negotiate with us and on our terms."
Michael Spencer, Mere Churchianity