Man is made in the image and likeness of God. God is infinite and we are finite. He is the Creator and we are creature. So we are made to commune with Him. We are made to transcend the imminent. We are to go beyond just the earth. We are to commune with the infinite, the eternal and immortal God. But the Theology in the West says that communion with God is the reward for the future, because they separated in their theology the supernatural life of God from the natural life of man in which the communion was cut short because man lost grace until the redemption of Christ came. So what we need to do is reconnect that but in Western theology they say it is when you pass this life that connection is made unlike the Eastern (Orthodox Theology).
In the Orthodox Church, that connection is always there because there is the Kingdom of God present through the Holy Spirit and the Church is a reflection of that not a replacement or a preparation only for the future. So the future is now to put it plainly in Orthodoxy.
As Christ said, in Luke 17:20-21 “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
But the Western theology and all of us people living in this have a need to commune with God now. We can’t just have a waiting period for the reward. We must have the presence of a person in and through the Liturgical worship and the theology of the Church now. But what do you do if you have a system where man is considered autonomous or independent even without grace and he can live well in the natural world and merely wait for the reward of the supernatural world in the future? What is man to do living in this type of theology? We still have the impulse to be with God now. Here is what happened in the West as a result. So instead of having an open door to the Kingdom which is ever present, the space or the natural place that is void becomes something that we try to make consciously or unconsciously governmental, economically, politically or socially into a facsimile (an exact copy) of the kingdom of God because we need to transcend ourselves. We need to give ourselves to a greater thing. We need to have meaning and expression, which goes beyond our immediate needs. We cannot suffer from a lack of meaning in our lives.
And then here is the interesting thing. What we have done if we have made Utopia into kingdoms because that kingdom of God is theologically closed off to us. There is no where for the transcendent urge of intuition to go there. But man is going to create a secular kingdom. He is going to have ultimate fulfillment somehow to try and make it in the world. That is where you get ideology to replace theology. That is where you get the isms’ (Communism, Fascism, capitalism, socialism) all these isms that really aren’t. They can’t really give you the whole meaning of that because only the Kingdom of God can do that. But we keep trying to reinvent how we are going to reach complete happiness. That is what modern society is structured to create enough distractions for us so that we can think and we can find a paradise of utopia in the natural setting. We keep expecting from politicians to do only what God can do. We keep expecting from social structures and governmental policies what only God can give. We invent new things all the time that we think are going to be the one thing that will make us happy and fulfilled. But happiness and fulfillment can only come through the penetration of the kingdom of God unto the earth which ideally in Orthodox theology we have not lost being a reflection of through earthly things of the heavenly reality.
Man needs a vertical trajectory for meaning in life. When he turns it horizontal that is when you get in trouble and you try to make a religion out of society. That is when you get in trouble with all these isms’. That is what creates cults. Orthodoxy is rather immune to cults except when people use this western mentality to intrude the Eastern theology and then you have a mix between cultist activity and forms and then Orthodoxy. That is why it is a very good idea to be humble in the Church. We should not be carried away by perfection of theology either. Don’t think that you can apply everything to someone that comes to you.
Overall, Man needs to transcend himself. In order to find meaning, he has to have God to give him meaning. The reason is because he is made for that. God became man so that man might become God by grace. We are not content merely to have a terrestrial (relating to earth) life. We must have a celestial meaning. We must have a heavenly goal. We must have a heavenly home. We have to go there. If that is closed off from us or if it becomes merely secular, we are going to try to make out of this the best thing we have. That temptation of trying to make out of the earth what only the heaven can be is apocalyptic.