http://www.ehellenism.com/OrthodoxFAQ.html#4The church always speaks of sin, pride, and the passions of a human, calling him a servant of God. How does this reconcile with the understanding of human dignity in society?
The Church does not share the humanistic view that man is the crowning value of the world, or as the measure of all things, nor as an independent king and conqueror. The Church sees the dignity of man within the image and likeness of God in which he was made by the Creator. In the image that is expressed in free will, thought, capability of word, and in a likeness which must be understood as a consistent spiritual growth in Christ. In the letters of St. Ambrose of Optina there are the wonderful words of St. Peter of Athos, “God saves us not without us”, in other words not without our own responsive efforts. The Church knows how difficult — with blood, sweat, and tears — this battle is to fight. The two thousand year experience of Christian life witnesses to us that without humility, without the help of God’s grace, it is impossible to be saved. From here comes a constant reminder to man how little he can do on his own. Outside of the vessel of the Church, in which one swims to salvation, it is impossible to swim across the ocean of this world, no matter how proudly man thinks of himself.