“In order to realize the Kingdom of God on earth, it is necessary, first, to recede from earth; in order to manifest the spiritual idea in the material world it is necessary to be free and detached from that world. A slave of the earth cannot possess it and consequently cannot make it the foundation of God’s Kingdom. . . .St. Mark the Ascetic, “On the Spiritual Law,” The Philokalia, 1.117.
The highest aim for Christianity is not ascetic detachment from the natural life but its hallowing and purification. But in order to purify it, one must, in the first instance, be pure from it. The purpose of Christianity is not to destroy earthly life, but to raise it towards God who comes down to meet it…. Only he who is free from the world can benefit it. A captive spirit is unable to rebuild its prison into a temple of light: he must first of all free himself from it.”
The Christian is not the one who wishes to destroy or get rid of the world. Not even the monastics, who leave the world, interested in the world’s undermining. The Christian ascetic (lay and other) is called to hallow the world and offer it to God. St. Mark teaches us that this can only happen if we are not ourselves subjected and enslaved to the world. Once free, we can elevate the world back to God, for it is His.