From the Essential Writings of Clarence Jordan, founder of Koinonia Farm and author of the Cotton Patch paraphrase of the New Testament.
The history of the Christian movement demonstrates that the intensity of persecution is geared, not to the moral level of the non-Christians, or persecutors, but to the intensity of the witness of the Christian community. The early believers were not persecuted because the Romans were such bad people. In fact, on big occasions they would throw a thousand or two helpless people into the amphitheater to be clawed to pieces by lions, but the thought of atomizing [with a nuclear bomb] a whole city probably would have horrified them. The strong conviction of the believers might not have caused the Romans to persecute them, but there could have been no persecution without such faith. One wonders why Christians today get off so easily. Is it because unchristian Americans are that much better than unchristian Romans, or is our light so dim that the tormentor can’t see it? What are the things we do that are worth persecuting?