Jesus was not a "softie". By his example and his teachings, he holds out to us a very high standard. A standard that you and I, frankly, cannot meet. Ever. Period.
But this does not mean Christianity is a lost cause, or that there is any punishment for not living as Christ did. There is nothing you can do that would make God love you any less. The motive force of God's love is failure. The proper response is humility, a soft, loving heart, and gratitude.