Sometimes, being a Christian means being tarred with the same brush as some of our argumentative fellow believers. Just take a look here or here if you'd like some examples. I don't really have a problem with Christians keeping each other accountable, and I encourage Christians to debate theologically. On our bad days, though, we look like we're just fighting with each other over nothing.
And this is the best part: both sides of arguments like this like to claim the moral high ground. One side is persecuted for their faith and the other is judged for their sins. Persecution looks a lot like old timey judgement, depending on where you stand. In fact, if you're going through tough times and you can't figure out if it's persecution or judgement coming your way, then I have an answer for you.
Love your way out of it.
If you're being persecuted, that's great! Jesus said that you're blessed if you get persecuted on account of his name. So love your neighbour as yourself and stay faithful to Jesus.
If you're being judged, that's not so great. Jesus said repent and follow him. Following him means to love God and love your neighbour. So love and you'll become faithful to Jesus.
It might sound like I'm being flippant, but I'm not. I'm being indifferent. Who cares if you're right or wrong? You can get knotted up in finding explanations for why things happen, and ultimately you might never know. Jesus' answer to breaking cycles like that is to start loving. Find someone who needs care and care for them. Find someone who needs provision and provide for them. Find someone who needs comfort and comfort them.
When we love this way we break whatever it is that's bound us up. If we wonder too long about whether it's judgement or persecution we'll end up actually doing nothing, and that's far from where we ought to be1. Love your way out of that cycle and into Christian faithfulness.
1. If you want to get existential, I'm going to say that love is the act that makes us exist. Love is an existential act that defies the non-existential question of whether hard times are persecution, judgement, or contingent.