Living in community means that the very nature of the case requires that we submit to demands from outside our selves. These demands encompass every aspect of our lives, and this means that our use of money is included. No man is an island, as Donne put it, and so we don't have the right to live as though any man is. But if these demands are ever present, how is this consistent with liberty?
We have to be very careful. As soon as the moral demand is acknowledged, a certain kind of person wants to run straight to enforcement. If something is a sin, they reason, why shouldn't it be a crime?
A crime occurs when someone does something that the larger society disapproves of, and is willing to express that disapproval by making the person conform to the demand by main force, or to makes others conform to it by making this offending fellow an example for the sake of deterrence. This penalty might be flogging, fines, imprisonment, or execution -- whatever it takes to get the person to submit to the coercion, or to get others to submit to it in advance after they see what just happened to the guy we made a big example out of.
Because this is a weighty matter, no thinking Christian ought to put up with any forms of coercion for which there is not ample scriptural justification. We force lawless men to refrain from murder and rape, and we can justify this use of force easily from the pages of Scripture (1 Tim. 1:9). We do this because there are some for whom nothing but force will work.
But when a society starts treating everyone like this, far from restraining lawlessness, the government is in the process of creating it. No faster way to create widespread contempt for law exists than to create ubiquitous and silly laws.
So if it is not criminal, and if there is no biblical justification for making it criminal, in what sense does life in community "create demands?" Demands do not cease to be demands simply because there is no civil penalty attached. Scripture calls us to a life of hospitality, for example. To reject this kind of gracious life is to sin, but it is the kind of sin that ought never to criminalized. Sons ought to feel the obligation to get their mother a card for her birthday, but this is not the kind of thing that should be enforced by flogging those who forget. The sense of obligation should arise from a different quarter. The fact that not all sins are crimes does not means that sinning is a scott-free activity. And the fact that it is not a scott-free activity does not mean subtle coercion.
This leads to the final point. When obligation arises in non-coercive settings, this can be done foolishly or wisely. There are plenty of legalistic churches that have figured out how to create the atomosphere of tyranny without actually hauling people off to the gulags. They simply threaten everlasting gulags when Jesus comes back to settle all the elders' scores for them. Any parishioners who believe that such leaders speak for God will actually feel the pressure, and will go along for the soul-withering ride.
In the creation of societal demands, churches ought to lead the way. But note that I said lead the way, not point the way. There is a vast difference between a legalistic demand of law and an exemplary demand of gracious example. The law of "grace" is as suffocating as any other kind of law. But the grace of law is no more suffocating than lungs full of mountain air.
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Any inculcation of condemnation among true children of God, for the sake of a higher way, a deeper walk, or a ninja path is actually a torturous route to spiritual ruination. Who wants a black belt in piety, especially a self-condemning piety? You earn that kind of black belt by learning how to beat yourself up. You do it all the time, with tournaments every weekend.
There is a false humility that drains the sap right out. And after the sap is all gone, that is a good opportunity to berate the tree for not having any fruit. There is a seductive invitation to believe that you are not a true disciple of Jesus, but only a lollygagging admirer of Him, paying your respects from a safe distance.
As a godly culture is established, the goal should be to cultivate deep friendships, true hospitality, genuine friendliness, rich grace, and tendermercies everywhere. Will Christians feel a sense of obligation as this happens? Yes, the same way that birds are obligated to fly, dogs to bark, and fish to swim. The obligations become so massive that we cannot begin to identify them. We come to identify them as our source of liberty, for that is what they are.