The second way the practice of obedience strengthens faith flows readily from our image of gravitational attraction. Each step towards Christ decreases the pull of everything in conflict with Christ. The manifestation of this movement in actual life is a growing indifference to the things of the world, most notably to the opinion of others.
Our Lord is quite clear about this. Think of the Beatitudes as rules for obedience to Christ, and notice how the list concludes: Do these things, and the world will hate you. What the world will hate is losing you, or more exactly, of losing your devotion, of losing your commitment, of losing your love. There is none more vindictive than the one no longer desired…again, that’s why the demons are outraged.
As we practice obedience to Christ, the things of the world begin to grow strangely dim, in the poetic image. All that is given priority over Christ fades first, then all that is not of Christ. And we must not shy from the truth here. We must not say, All the things and people I love most dearly will become even more dear to me. No, they probably will not. Unless you [are willing to] hate your father and mother… Many or even most will begin to lose their interest and attractiveness to you, even the things the world tells you are loveliest. Even the things your own heart tells you are fair and true, or at least do no harm. The fact is, the discipline of obedience will reveal what is fair and true for you, and what isn’t. Outside of Christ, you are the worst judge of your own values. Inside of Christ, Christ will judge.
That is the consuming fire.