The early Christians did not believe that they were following a new religion. They were Jews, and their main difference with the rest of Judaism was that they were convinced that the Messiah had come, whereas other Jews continued awaiting his advent. Therefore, the Christian message to Jews was not that they should abandon their Jewishness. On the contrary, now that the messianic age had begun, they were to be better Jews. Likewise, their early proclamation to the Gentiles was not an invitation to accept a newly born religion, but rather to become participants of the promises made to Abraham and his descendents….From the point of view of those Jews who rejected Christianity, this situation was understood in a similar manner. Christianity was not a new religion, but a heretical sect within Judaism…Thus, Romans, Jews, and Christians agreed that what was taking place was a conflict among Jews.
At this moment another naked man arrived with a purple belt around his loins. He threw the boy’s body on its back, struck it, opened it, removed the heart and placed it over the fire. Then he took the roasted heart off the fire and cut it into halves. He sprinkled it with barley and drenched it with oil. When it was sufficiently prepared, he distributed portions of it to the initiates, and when they were holding them (in their hands), he made them swear an oath by the blood of the heart…
On a special day they gather in a feast with all their children, sisters, mother—all the sexes and all ages. There, flushed with the banquet after such feasting and drinking, they begin to burn with incestuous passions. They provoke a dog tied to the lampstand to leap and bound towards a scrap of food which they have tossed outside the reach of his chain. By this means the light is overturned and extinguished, and with it common knowledge of their actions; in the shameless dark with unspeakable lust they copulate in random unions, all equally being guilty of incest, some by deed, but everyone by complicity…
The Christians responded to these accusations and the persecution in two ways: by embracing martyrdom, and by writing apologies. Both of these were powerful witnesses to the pagan culture around them. Christians were being executed for not giving up their faith while simultaneously leaders were writing apologies arguing against the common Roman misconceptions of the faith. These are both expressions of believers’ witnessing for Christ Jesus to those who were around them. Martyrdom was not only accepted by many church leaders, they even went so far as to encourage it. For example, Ignatius states,
Suffer me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality it will be granted me to attain to God. I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my tomb, and may leave nothing of my body; so that when I have fallen asleep [in death], … Then shall I truly be a disciple of Christ, when the world shall not see so much as my body. Entreat Christ for me, that by these instruments I may be found a sacrifice [to God]. 
“It is a trustworthy statement: ‘For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”
[I]s it not absurd to apply the name of atheism? …while we have such incentives to piety—in the established order, the universal harmony, the magnitude, the colour, the form, the arrangement of the world—with reason might our reputation for impiety, as well as the cause of our being thus harassed, be charged on ourselves. But, since our doctrine acknowledges one God, the Maker of this universe, who is Himself uncreated (for that which is does not come to be, but that which is not) but has made all things by the Logos which is from Him, we are treated unreasonably in both respects, in that we are both defamed and persecuted.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them; glorify God in the day of visitation.(NASB 1Peter 2:11).