“What exactly is a …” I struggled to remember the word.
“Seder. It’s an important part of Passover. A ceremonial dinner on the first day of Passover to remind us of the struggles that Moses and the children of Israel had while they tried to leave Egypt,” Sarah explained.
Sarah and I walked down the halls of our high school, our usual chatter of movies, classes, and rehearsal schedules interrupted by the invitation to a formal dinner at her house. I had invited friends to Church activities many times, but this sudden turn of events unsettled me. I was the one who usually extended invitations to religious activities! I wasn’t expecting Sarah to invite me to one of hers!
“My mom said that your whole family could come if they want to. The normal service lasts for hours, but we’ll do the abridged version for you. There’s even this game that Alli can play. We hide matzo, and she has to find it.” I could see my little sister shrieking with laughter as she tore around the house, looking for the cracker-like bread.
“I’ll ask my mom,” I replied.
I had moved from Utah to Iowa when I was seven and was startled to find no members of the Church in my class at school. Where once I had found many Church friends at school, I now led a split sort of life with school friends on one hand and Church friends on the other. I had been able to balance the two separately for quite some time, but this invitation had upset that balance.
That night, I presented the idea to my mother, who was more than willing to accept Sarah’s invitation. My mother taught seminary, and with the school year drawing to a close, she was looking ahead to teaching the Old Testament, which contains the history of Passover.
Later that week, my family found ourselves settled around a table that was set as formally as one we might have had for a Christmas or birthday celebration. There were a few differences: a traditional plate that was ornately decorated with various scenes contained different foods to accompany each painting. Parsley and salt water, hard-boiled eggs, horseradish, and matzo each represented the pain, bitterness, and other experiences of the children of Israel. Throughout the meal, our families were able to discover various religious similarities and differences. I was really glad Sarah had invited me to this special occasion in her home.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) said, “Every truth found in every church in all the world we believe. But we also say this to all men—Come and take the added light and truth that God has restored in our day” (see Russell M. Nelson, “Teach Us Tolerance and Love,” Ensign, May 1994, 70).
As members of the Church we have the fulness of the gospel, but we can still learn much from our brothers and sisters outside our faith: The service shown by Mother Teresa, the strength shown by Gandhi, and the examples of many other people and organizations around the world that give time and money to those in need. We are truly blessed to have the privilege to worship “how, where, or what [we] may” and we should allow others to do the same (see A of F 1:11). While we may not agree with all their beliefs, we can search for the good in every faith, respect it, and use it to strengthen ourselves.
“We can respect other religions, and we must do so. We must recognize the great good they accomplish. We must … be tolerant and friendly toward those not of our faith. …
“Let us be true disciples of the Christ, observing the Golden Rule, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. … Love and respect will overcome every element of animosity. Our kindness may be the most persuasive argument for that which we believe.”
—President Gordon B. Hinckley, “We Bear Witness of Him,” Ensign, May 1998, 4–5.
President Hinckley has asked us to be friendly and understanding to those who are not of our faith. Here are a few ways you can do that.
Respect their sacred places and items. You would not be pleased if someone littered temple grounds or defaced a Book of Mormon. Similarly, other religions hold things sacred, such as their own temples or religious items such as rosaries, icons, or certain items of clothing.
Respect others’ religious customs. For instance, it is respectful to remove your shoes upon entering certain holy places, just as it would be respectful to remove your hat while praying in a Latter-day Saint setting. However, some religious customs could be in violation of our own, such as drinking tea or wine. In cases such as these, you should kindly decline to participate.
Avoid contention. Even if others attack your beliefs, remember to always respond with friendship and love. Contention drives away the Spirit, but bearing your testimony of the gospel and the Savior can invite the Spirit to the situation.
Don’t make fun of other religions’ practices, doctrines, or culture. You might be hurt if someone made fun of you for going to seminary or performing baptisms for the dead. Be considerate, even if you don’t agree with the practices of other religions.
Be kind to missionaries of other faiths. Treat representatives from other churches the same way you would want Latter-day Saint missionaries to be treated.
Be a representative of the Savior in all you do. The more people see your Christlike example, the better view they will have of the Church and its teachings.