That which turns people off to Christianity more so than anything else is the cold, hard, legalistic form of religion which is more concerned with purity than with intention.
What is the difference between a real, life-giving, loving Christianity and a dark, cold legalistic Christianity? What makes some Christians beams of radiant light, and others sources self-righteousness and condemnation?
Basically what sets these two camps of Christianity apart is love vs. fear. One group is motivated out of love and joy, the other out of fear and suffering.
Those Christians who are radiant lights of warmth, love and goodness get that way from being intimate with the source of warmth, love and goodness: Jesus. They have a real, personal, and intense relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That relationship is as real and as powerful to them as any earthly relationship between two people could ever hope to be; and they know and feel the intense love that Jesus has for all men.
But those Christians who are proud, self-righteous, and always looking for the devil under every rock and bush know little of the love of Jesus, and know a lot about fear. But this isn't just a "fear of the LORD," which is really reverence for God, rather this is a fear of being found out: fear of people realizing that you are a phony, a fraud, a hypocrite. They have interpreted the Bible as being a code for purity: purity of thought, purity of action, and purity of doctrine. Rather than seeing the incredible love of God displayed throughout the pages of the Bible for fallen man, all they see are rules and regulations as how to act, behave, think and believe. And LORD help those who's thoughts, actions, words and deeds aren't absolutely pure! For they shall quickly slide down the slippery slope to heresy, witchcraft and the fires of hell.
But those who know the story of Jesus primarily as a love story, aren't concerned about being found out about as phonies, frauds or hypocrites, because they already know they are, and don’t try to hide it! They accept their imperfections and problems, and realize that they are not a hindrance to the love of Jesus, but rather serve as beacons of grace. They know and understand that it's not in spite of their mistakes and shortcomings that Jesus loves them, it is because of their mistakes and shortcomings that Jesus loves them! The Bible is not a set of purity codes and doctrinal formulas, but rather a love story, the story of God's love for fallen man.
When you view the Bible as a collection of codes and regulations, then it becomes a blunt weapon to hit people with, rather than a love story that you invite them to take part in. Instead of showing others that God loves them because of their sins, you show them how God hates them because of their sins. This is the type of religion that turns so many people from God, and has them going to bars, taverns, drug dealers, prostitutes, and pornography to relieve their pain.
Now, to be fair, there certainly are codes of conduct and rules and regulations in the Bible, let's make no mistake about it. But the Bible also makes it clear that God will give you the grace and the ability to live a pure, righteous life; all you have to do is ask. These codes are not there for you to beat people over the head with, or find reasons and rationalizations to look down on others who are unable or unwilling to see things the way you do.
Those Christians who are radiant beams of light are constantly looking for what God is doing on earth, and trying to find the ways and means to join in with his redemptive activity. They don't look for excuses and rationalizations for inaction, but even when faced with the impossible, look to God to provide all they need to join in with his purposes.
But those Christians who are ruled by fear rather than love find every possible reason to keep from joining in with God's redemptive work, or only participate half-heartedly. They think God's most important work is one of purity, not love. Their focus is on being sinless, not loving. But of course they set a standard for themselves that is impossible for men to live up to, because even the best of us make mistakes, do the wrong thing, and bring shame upon ourselves as well as God. It is impossible not to sin! But the important thing is not avoiding sin, but rather joining in with the purposes of God! Do that, and you don't have to worry much about sinning.
There is not one single Christian who does what is always right and does not sin. The only difference is that there are those Christians who are constantly worried about being found out about their mistakes, and those Christians who realize that the love and mercy of Jesus covers all sins, no matter what.
The only sin that Jesus can't take care of are those who refuse to rely on His grace and mercy to cover their sinfulness, and try to hide it or fight it on their own.
If you find yourself more worried about sin than you are about grace, then I invite you to stop what you're doing, and admit to yourself that you are just as much a rotten sinner as is anyone else. Rather than worrying about not sinning any more, instead rely on the love and grace of Jesus to take care of all your faults and sins, no matter what they are.