A couple of friends are hiking in the the woods, and suddenly a bear appears. They both take off running. Gasping, one says "Do you think we can outrun the bear?" The other replies. "I don't have to outrun the bear. I only have to outrun you!" That's one way some people look at being "good"-- they just need to be better than someone else. I've heard people say "I'm OK-I don't do anything really bad; don't rob people on the highway or anything like that!" Does God really "grade on a curve"?
Recently I read a comment by the son of a minister who had turned his back on God. When no thunderbolts appeared, he figured he was home free--either God wasn't really there, or didn't really care. I believe that He is there, and that He does care--enough to respect our rejection, if that is what we really, really want. But there will come a time that we will see what we have done: we will have missed out on what He created us to be in this life, and we won't have a ticket to the next. We really won't have gotten away with anything.
Yes, God did make the rules of this life, and it is to our advantage to follow them. Life really works better that way. But because we can never do it perfectly on our own, He is also a God of mercy. If we truly seek Him, even if we are on the wrong road, He will find us and put us back where He wants us. Saul of Tarsus really thought he was doing God's will by trying to stamp out the early Church--but because he truly wanted God, God knocked him down, dragged him out, pointed him in the right direction, and used him mightily. Then God could turn Saul the persecutor into Paul, the apostle.
We are not called to outrun someone else. We are called to run our own race. If we run it His way, we will have His wind at our back, and we will be amazed at where this can take us.