In today's Christian culture, we tend to think of persecution as "good Christians" being put down or made fun of by "sinners." But that wasn't how it was in the early church. The persecution that they received was from the religious people! Jesus Himself was not put down and mocked - and ultimately killed - because He went around telling "bad" people to start being "good." He was hated by the religious people because He put His arms around sinners. He supped with them. He loved them.
The early church preached the good news - that people are made righteous by the gift of God, not by righteous behavior - and they were persecuted for that. Again, the ones who persecuted them were the religious people who stood firmly on their law-based, performance-based religion.
Somewhere along the line, the church lost the plot. They started becoming like the religious do-gooders and finger-pointers, and they themselves (the church) began persecuting those who were preaching the gospel of God's grace and who put their arms around sinners. We today who preach grace are simply doing what God has called the church to do all along.